Dancia Penn OBE QC

Instruct Dancia

Introduction

Introduction

Dancia is a lawyer in active practice. She is a former Attorney General of The Virgin Islands and became Queen’s Counsel in 1996. Her legal experience includes contentious and non-contentious matters in corporate and commercial law including financial services, insolvency, dispute resolution, regulatory matters as well as a wide range of other areas of private law, including trusts and estates, and public law. 

Dancia regularly advises and assists clients in BVI, in the Caribbean, United States, United Kingdom, Europe and Far East on matters of BVI law. She appears in the High Court and the Commercial Court in major commercial disputes. She has appeared in the Courts at all levels including the Privy Council. 

Dancia works as an Arbitrator and is a qualified Mediator on The Roster of the Mediators of The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. She regularly sits as Chair or Member of various Ad Hoc Tribunals and also represents parties before them. Recently she was appointed to a four-year term as a member of The Caribbean Community Administrative Tribunal (CCAT). This is a body set up by the Caribbean Community to hear and determine claims by employees of Commonwealth Caribbean Public Institutions. She is also Co-Founder of Caribbean Arbitrators. 

Dancia has the unique distinction of serving at the highest levels in all three branches of Government – Executive, Legislative and Judicial – and working prominently in the private sector of the legal profession in The Virgin Islands, and beyond. 

  • January 2012 -– Present Private practice of law based in The Virgin Islands - Head of Chambers Dancia Penn & Co
  • August 2007 – November 2011 Member of the First House of Assembly of The Virgin Islands
  • August 2007 - November 2011
    • First Deputy Premier, Minister of Health, Social Development and Gender of The Virgin Islands 
    • Member of The First National Security Council of The Virgin Islands
    • Regional Representative for Women Parliamentarians of Caribbean, Atlantic and Americas on Commonwealth Women’s Parliamentary Association
  • April – July 2007 Justice of Appeal (Acting), Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court
  • Sept 2004 – March 2007 Deputy Governor of The Virgin Islands
    • Executive position under The Virgin Islands Constitution that supports and facilitates the Governor of The Virgin Islands in the Governor’s constitutional functions which include oversight of external affairs, defence, internal security, administration of the courts, general elections and disaster preparedness and the Public Service and its management.
  • September 2000 – September 2004 Head of Chambers, Dancia Penn & Co.
    • A well-established boutique law firm in The Virgin Islands founded in 1984, with a strong local and international client base and a practice concentrating primarily on civil and commercial matters and dispute resolution. Mrs. Penn was involved in major commercial litigation as well as marketing of the jurisdiction with private clients in Europe and the Far East.
  • 1999 - Admitted of the Bar of Barbados
  • 1996 - Appointed Queen’s Counsel
  • 1999 - Admitted of the Bar of Barbados
  • 1996 - Appointed Queen’s Counsel
  • 1992 - 1999 Attorney General of The Virgin Islands/Director of Public Prosecutions
    • Member of Executive Council (now Cabinet) as well as Legislative Council (now House of Assembly). At the time, the Attorney General was also Director of Public Prosecutions.
    • Tenure as Attorney General coincided with a period of marked growth and expansion of the financial services sector of The Virgin Islands. Involved in formulation of the policy, and the drafting and enactment of much of the legislation which is today the backbone of the financial services industry in The Virgin Islands.
    • In addition, responsible for drafting and piloting through the Legislative Council of legislation which amended and codified the criminal laws of The Virgin Islands, as well as legislation for the social sector.
    • Functioned as Central Authority for International Cooperation matters under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the United States and under the Proceeds of Criminal Conduct Act
    • Served as Chairman of The Caribbean Financial action Task (CFATF) - This is the Caribbean arm of the Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), the prominent Anti- Money Laundering Agency in the Caribbean
    • Represented The Virgin Islands in several regional, Commonwealth and International Conferences and Fora
  • 1984 -1992 Private Practice of Law. Founder and Head of Chambers, Dancia Penn and Co.
  • 1982 - Appointed Notary Public
  • 1981 - Admitted to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor of The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in The Virgin Islands.
  • 1981 - 1984 Legal Assistant (now Crown Counsel) and Senior Crown Counsel, Attorney General’s Chambers, The Virgin Islands
  • 1973 - 1975 Graduate Teacher – History and Spanish, The Virgin Islands High School
  • 1975 - 1976 Administrative Officer, Office of the Chief Minister (now Premier)

In England and Wales, Dancia is an arbitrator and mediator and provides arbitration and mediation services; Dancia is not a barrister in England and Wales.

Appointments and Consultancies

Appointments and Consultancies

  • 2016 to Dec 2018 Chairman, The Virgin Islands General Legal Council – This is the regulatory body of the legal profession in The Virgin Islands
  • 2004 - 2007 Chairman, The Financial Investigation Agency – This is a statutory body established in 2003 as the Anti-Money Laundering Authority in The Virgin Islands. Participant in meetings of The Egmont Group on anti-money laundering matters.

    • Chairman of Board of The Caribbean Centre of Development Administration (CARICAD) – This is the regional body dealing with Public Administration
    • Chairman of The Board, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) – This is the Caribbean agency responsible for Disaster preparedness. She was involved in the preparation for the creation of CDEMA, the successor to CDERA.
  • 2000 - 2004 Chairman, BVI Social Security Board
  • December 1999 Consultant, United Nations Drugs Control Program (UNDCP) Barbados – evaluated the Program, which was initiated and financed by The United Nations; it sought to improve capacity throughout the Caribbean to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate drug offences
  • 2000 - 2006 Chairman, BVI Honours Committee – advised Government of The Virgin Islands on the award of national honours and made recommendations for awardees
  • 2000 - 2003 Member, British Virgin Islands E-Commerce Committee – The goal was to make The Virgin Islands become a leading, well-regulated jurisdiction for the formation and registration of e-commerce ventures
  • 2000 - 2002 Advisor to Electoral System Reform Committee on Law and Procedures Governing Elections in The Virgin Islands, appointed by Government of The Virgin Islands
  • 2001 – 2002 Consultant to Committee on The Costs, Obligations and Liabilities of Independence for The Virgin Islands
  • 1990 – 1992 Member, Public Service Commission of The Virgin Islands
  • 1987- 1988 Member, British Virgin Islands College Focus Committee Government of The Virgin Islands. The H. Lavity Stoutt Community College set up following Report of this Committee.
  • 1984 - Member, BVI Building Authority

Professional Associations

Professional Associations

  • Member Roster of Mediators, Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Virgin Islands
  • Member of The Panel of Arbitrators of The BVI International Arbitration Center
  • Member BVI Arbitration Centre Support Group
  • Qualified as a Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
  • BVI Bar Association (since 1981)
  • Member Disciplinary Committee, OECS BAR ASSOCIATION
  • International Bar Association (IBA)
  • BVI Association of Registered Agents (Founding Member)
  • BVI Hotel and Commerce Association (Founding Member)
  • Ad Hoc Member of Tribunals including Tribunals constituted under The Labour Code of The Virgin Islands.

Awards & Prizes

Awards & Prizes

  • 2019 - International Woman on The Move/Onyx Magazine , Orlando Florida, USA
  • 2018 - Recipient of The Pelican Award from The Alumni Association of The University of The West Indies. This is a peer Award and is the highest honour that can be granted by the Alumni of The University of the West Indies
  • 2007 - Honoured by American Foundation of The University of the West Indies in New York as A Caribbean Luminary and a person who has made an indelible contribution to the development of The Caribbean
  • 2004 - Honoured by BVI Bar Association in recognition of my outstanding accomplishments in, and my contribution to the development of law and the administration of justice in The Virgin Islands
  • 2000 - Made a Member of The Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty The Queen in The Queen’s Birthday Honours, 2000
  • 1998 - Honoured as a Woman in the Legislative Council of the Virgin Islands
  • 1997 - Woman of the Year – Tortola Ladies Club

Education and Training

Education and Training

  • 1981 - Norman Manley Law School, Council of Legal Education of The West Indies: Legal Education Certificate
  • 1979 - The University of The West Indies, Cave Hill Campus: LLB (Honours)
  • 1973 - The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus: Bachelor of Arts (History and Spanish)

Languages

Languages

English and Spanish (moderately fluent)

Additional Matters

Additional Matters

  • regularly attends and speaks at various Conferences and Seminars on Law, Mediation and Arbitration throughout the Caribbean as well as internationally.
  • attended the Inaugural Guyana Arbitration Conference in 2018. She is a serving member of the Guyana Arbitration Advisory Group.
  • Presented papers at International Conferences and Symposia, including at Oxford University on topics including Anti-Money Laundering Legislation, Measures to Preserve the Integrity of the BVI Financial Services Sector, and the Prosecution of Drug Offences.
  • Delivered addresses and made presentations at many Conferences Seminars and Symposia regionally and internationally on a range of subjects, legal and otherwise. Speeches include Keynote Address at OECS Annual Dinner in BVI on importance of BVI Commercial Court; Annual Norwell Harrigan Memorial Lecture sponsored by St. Georges Church; McWelling Todman Memorial Lecture of BVI Bar Association.
  • Signed 12 of Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAS) signed by The Virgin Islands.